Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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Carson Gets His Wish

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Evaluate the player, not the name. I tackled Carson Palmer’s obvious decline before last season, noting that his once golden arm was trending toward Chad Pennington territory. Ever since he rejected Tommy John surgery in favor of rest and rehab, Palmer has struggled with accuracy, sailed passes, and lost zip on his throws. Raiders faithful will soon find out that mobility is an issue as well.

To desperately surrender a 2012 first-round pick for Palmer is a foolish risk. To throw in a conditional 2013 first-rounder is laughable, man. As’s Gregg Doyel points out, Bengals owner Mike Brown “hasn't won like this since he was born, silver-spoon style, into one of the first families of football 74 years ago.”

Coach Hue Jackson was with the Bengals in Palmer’s salad days of 2004-2006. It’s hard to blame him for remembering a top-three NFL quarterback. On the other hand, he owes it to the organization to take a critical look at the 2009-2010 game film. A pie-in-the-sky optimist will see a precision passer who picked apart the Chargers’ top-rated defense late last season once the Bengals banished Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco to the bench. A realist will put more stock in the rest of the season that saw Palmer pad his numbers against prevent defenses in garbage time.

In pure fantasy terms, Palmer is an upgrade on Jason Campbell as a passer. The Raiders can surround him with enough explosive talent in Darren McFadden, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, and Darrius Heyward-Bey to be worthy of the top waiver claim at quarterback this week. In a run-oriented offense, though, fantasy owners should expect just a top 15-20 quarterback going forward. Palmer isn’t going to be a reliable weekly starter.

On to the players. Here is how I rank the top players at each position as we head into Week 7. Full writeups of each player are below. 
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Carson Palmer
John Beck
Christian Ponder
Matt Cassel
Curtis Painter
Matt Moore

Running Backs
DeMarco Murray
Montario Hardesty
Maurice Morris
Roy Helu
Bernard Scott
Donald Brown
C.J. Spiller  
Marion Barber

Wide Receivers
Michael Crabtree
Greg Little
Danario Alexander
Demaryius Thomas
Arrelious Benn
Greg Salas
Doug Baldwin
Steve Breaston
Damian Williams

Tight Ends
Fred Davis
Ed Dickson
Jake Ballard
Lance Kendricks

Defense/Special Teams


Carson Palmer, Raiders - The current version of Palmer isn’t a major upgrade on Jason Campbell, but he remains a better pure passer even with declining arm strength. While Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, and Darrius Heyward-Bey represent intriguing weapons in the passing game, this offense runs through Darren McFadden. I would expect low-end QB2 production the rest of the way, which means Palmer is more valuable than Mark Sanchez but not quite worth dumping a Jay Cutler or Sam Bradford.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

John Beck, Redskins - Coach Mike Shanahan refuses to announce a Week 7 starter until Wednesday, but the game film is going to lead him away from Rex Grossman. Even in Shanahan’s quarterback-friendly offense, I wouldn’t run out to grab Beck in 12-team leagues just yet. There’s certainly top-20 upside, but history suggests Beck’s leash won’t be any longer than Grossman’s was. Consistency will be an issue.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Christian Ponder, Vikings - Ponder did little to impress in August, but he showed positive signs in Sunday night’s relief effort. His arm is stronger than advertised, he moved the offense and has a clear mobility edge on Donovan McNabb. Ponder won’t be confused with Michael Vick any time soon, but he could easily be among the top-five running quarterbacks going forward. His preseason stats include eight rushes for 61 yards in one half of action in the finale. Expect a decision from coach Leslie Frazier by Wednesday.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Matt Cassel, Chiefs - Cassel is trending back toward legit QB2 territory with a two-week average of 259 yards and 2.5 touchdowns heading into the Week 6 bye. He’s not a bad emergency start this week against a Raiders defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

Recommendation: Worth a look as a matchup play.

Curtis Painter, Colts - He continues to make incremental improvements by the week. Painter is now adjusting at the line of scrimmage and running the no-huddle formation when the situation calls for it. Considering the Colts’ weapons, Painter could easily graduate to top-20 status by late in the season.

Recommendation: Should be owned in two-quarterback leagues.

Matt Moore, Dolphins - Moore refused to budge from his primary read Monday night, and it killed him. If you’re feeling brave, it’s worth noting that he goes from the defense allowing the 32nd-most fantasy points to opposing QBs in Week 6 to the one allowing the most (Broncos) in Week 7.

Recommendation: Worth a look in two-quarterback leagues.

Watch List: Charlie Whitehurst, A.J. Feeley, Kyle Orton, Vince Young

The Seahawks are preparing as if Whitehurst will start against the Browns, but it’s still possible that Tarvaris Jackson will rally late in the week. … Feeley is on red alert with Sam Bradford nursing a high-ankle sprain. … The Raiders are out of the picture for Orton following the Carson Palmer trade. Perhaps the Dolphins will give him a long look in the few hours remaining before the deadline.

Cut Bait: Rex Grossman, Donovan McNabb, Jason Campbell, Andy Dalton (bye), Alex Smith (bye)

Dalton and Smith aren’t worthy carrying through the bye week in 12-team leagues. … Campbell is done in Oakland following the Palmer trade. … The Vikings may end up cutting McNabb if Ponder takes over. He’s not a “mentor.”

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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
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